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What is difference between Internet Speed & Bandwidth ? - ISP offer bandwidth

I never thought these two words Internet bandwidth and Internet speed are so much confusing for regular Internet users before I talk with a CCNA guy. Even though he finished his CCNA while speaking about the ISP packages he refers both terms Internet
speed and Internet bandwidth are same. Like him many Internet users are referring both this speed and bandwidth are same and they never understand these two are different.

Difference between Internet speed and bandwidth

Internet speed and bandwidth are technically different. Bandwidth is referring the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time through the network while speed is the time taken to reach the data (in form of packets) from source to destination. So we can see bandwidth is a fixed one while network speed can vary. Network speed depends on many factors like the protocol using to send data, server efficiency, network conjunction, etc. In practical life, a
user feels the Internet speed by downloading certain files from the server to his computer. Yes, it is true high bandwidth really helps to download the file faster but there are some other factors are there. If he is downloading the file (consider a big
file like video) from a slow server, he feels his Internet speed is very less. Actually, his Internet bandwidth is good enough but the speed of data transfer is limited by the response delay of the remote server.

Another factor really affects the Internet speed is the kind of protocol they use. The speed of data transfer vary depends on whether this connection is using a connection-oriented protocol (TCP) or connectionless protocol (UDP). As there is no error detection and synchronizing, data transfer using UDP is always faster than the same in TCP. Here Internet bandwidth is a constant but the Internet speed varies.

So, in a nutshell, Internet speed and Internet bandwidth are different. Internet bandwidth is the one which is assigned by your ISP and which is a constant (as long as your ISP keeps its promise) while Internet speed varies with the remote server and the
protocol they use to send data.



Anonymous said…
I have no clear idea. But, when I check my internet speed through by typing speedtest:, it gives both bandwidth and internet speed.
Anonymous said…
Very nice article describing the difference. Thanks
Anonymous said…
If your ISP says that the Bandwidth is 512kb/s then you should get the downloading speed upto 512/8= 64kb/s. This is the difference between Bandwidth and Speed.
NAK said…
I admit Internet bandwidth and speed are totally confusing terms.
enlighten said…
Nice article ! Internet speed :

The performance of an Internet connection, which is based on the number of bytes per second that data travels from the user's device to the Internet (upload) and from the Internet (download). Depending on the type of connection, the speed differs dramatically. The download rate is higher than the upload, because a short request to the Web site (upload) results in a much larger download of Web pages, images and videos. If you want to test your internet speed , use

Bandwidth :

The bandwidth is as capacity, NOT speed. Bandwidth is the minimum capacity (in bits per second) across all network links between the user and the application server. The slowest link is typically the user's access line to the Internet. Useable link bandwidth may be reduced by congestion and protocol inefficiency (e.g., small TCP window size).